THE VILLAGES / NA BAILTEAN
History and information / Eachdraidh agus fiosrachadh
LOWER SHADER / SIADAR IARACH
Lower Shader (Gaelic: Siadar Iarach) is a village with a long history - now mostly beyond recall. The old village, Siadar a' Chladaich, located nearer the Atlantic Ocean shore, was evacuated round about 1851 - after a number of bad harvests had driven the people to near destitution. Some went across the Atlantic to Canada and over time those who were left moved to the area we now know as Lower Shader. A few of their descendants still live in the area.
Very interesting landmarks are evident in the Shader landscape. In the seaside area of the old village there was a cell/church named St Peter's. When the Reformation eventually reached Lewis, the cell/church was destroyed. Towards the moor there is a large standing stone, “Clach Steidh Linn”, and the more well-known “Steinacleit” ancient stone circle. The latter site is extremely difficult to interpret and has at various times been claimed to be a chambered cairn, an enclosure, a settlement or, more commonly, a homestead. One roadside loch, “Loch an Dùin”, has the ruins of an island fort but again its history is unclear. The other roadside loch is "Loch Bacabhat", where swans and ducks often rest while on passage. Further out on the moor is “Loch Marabhat” which has a stone cairn at one end.
In the years following WWII, Lower Shader had a school, a district nurse, nearby church meeting-houses, a shop, a tailor and even boasted its own lady osteopath at one time. Self-sufficiency was the order of the day then and most could turn their hand to whatever needed done. The near locality had a doctor's surgery, a blacksmith and a post office.
Today, none of these facilities can be found in Shader but the larger Borve, slightly north, does contain many local services and businesses.
Tha eachdraidh fhada aig Siadar Iarach – chan urrainnear a’ mhòr-chuid dhe a chuimhneachadh a-nis. Chaidh an t-seann bhaile, Siadar a’ Chladaich, a bha suidhichte faisg air cladach a’ Chuain Shiair, fhalamhachadh mu 1851 – an-dèidh corra fogharadh neo-bhuadhach a dh’fhàg na daoine ann am bochdainn shearbhach. Chaidh feadhainn tarsainn air a’ Chuan Siar gu Canada agus thairis air ùine, dh’imrich an fheadhainn a bha air fhàgail dhan sgìre a dh’aithnichear an-diugh mar Shiadar Iarach. Tha feadhainn de an sliochd a’ fuireach ann fhathast.
Tha comharran-tìre air leth inntinneach nochdte ann an cruth-tìre Shiadair. Anns a’ phàirt den t-seann bhaile a tha ri taobh na mara, bha cill/eaglais ann air an robh cill Naoimh Pheadair. Nuair a thàinig an t-Ath-leasachadh air Leòdhas mu dheireadh thall, chaidh i a sgrios. A dh’ionnsaigh a’ mhonaidh, chìthear tursa mòr air a bheil “Clach Steidh Linn” agus cuideachd an cearcall de sheann tursachan, “Stein a cleit” a tha nas cliùitiche. Tha an làrach dheireannach air leth duilich a mhìneachadh agus aig diofar uairean, bhathar a’ tagairt gur e càrn seòmarach, cuidh, tuineachadh no (as trice) treabhair a th’ ann. Tha tobhta de dhùn eileanach aig aon loch a tha ri taobh an rathaid – Loch an Dùin – ach a-rìthist, tha eachdraidh mì-shoilleir. ’S e “Loch Bacabhat” an loch eile ri taobh an rathaid, far am bi ealachan agus tunnagan a’ gabhail fois fhad ’s a tha iad ag imrich. Nas fhaide air astar air a’ mhonadh, tha “Loch Marabhat” le càrn cloiche aig aon cheann.
Anns na bliadhnaichean a’ leantainn an dàrna chogaidh, bha sgoil ann an Siadar Iarach cho math ri nurs sgìreil, taighean-coinneimh faisg air làimh, bùth, tàillear agus bha fiù ’s boireannach leigheas-chnàimh aige air aon àm. Bha e deatamach a bhith fèin-fhoghainteach san àm sin agus b’ urrainn do neart dhe na daoine an làmh a chur ris na dh’fheumadh a bhith air a dhèanamh. Cha robh an lèigh-lann, an gobhainn agus oifis a’ phuist fad’ air falbh a bharrachd.
An-diugh, chan eil goireasan sam bith ann an Siadar e fhèin ach tha tòrr sheirbheisean agus ghnothachasan ionadail ann am Borgh, beagan gu tuath.
LOWER SHADER - HISTORY / SIADAR IARACH - EACHDRAIDH
The Steinacleit site has not been given the attention and conservation it certainly deserves by Historic Scotland and is getting grassed over year by year. Neither has it been dug up to any extent by archaeologists although the information gained would be of worldwide interest. From Stein a cleit, there is an uninterrupted view towards Dùn Bhuirgh and Clach an Truiseil, which clearly must have been of significance to the people at that time. Other names like "Beag na Gàrraidh" and "Buaile Thog na Gàrraidh" stir up romantic images of a village with gardens but these would have been vegetable, and possibly herb, growing gardens enclosed by stone walls. However, these were left untended when the then landlord refused the people the ground. "Buaile" is a Gaelic word, meaning a field or enclosure and there is the "Buaile Ghlas" (green or grassy field) and the "Buaile Fhuar" (cold field, probably north facing).
Time moved on and the repopulated Lower Shader grew in size. A school was built in 1878 at Airidhantuim with a house for the headmaster attached. The school had accommodation for 170 pupils and in 1879 had an average attendance of 93 pupils. In those days there would be five teachers in the school. Old school photos show large classes comparable to the whole intake of the school before its closure in 2012. Like every school, it would have had good and bad teachers over the years but for one ex-pupil, one stands out as memorable. This teacher would take his pupils out of the class to wander round the ancient sites locally looking for any artefacts that a sharp-eyed youngster would detect. In this they were very successful as he remembers a window ledge in the school covered in flint arrowheads and other artefacts discovered on these forays. It is not known where that part of Shader history is now held.
Like many other villages throughout the British Isles, Lower Shader lost too many of its young men in wars. From what records are available, and which do not claim to be completely accurate, in the First World War, or as result of it, there were twenty-two young men lost - two in 1914, three in 1915, one in 1916, three in 1917, three in 1918 and ten in 1919. The latter is the year of the terrible tragedy of the sinking of the Admiralty yacht "HMS Iolaire" outside Stornoway harbour, when the brave men who had survived the war, and were virtually home, were drowned. In the Second World War, three young men lost their lives. A soldier of the Cameron Highlanders was lost in Italy, a seaman was lost on "HMS Esk" and another seaman, a POW, died in captivity in Germany. Three others were POWs and came back home safely to their families. According to the Roll of Honour, 51 men from Lower Shader served in WWII.
After the end of WWI, when the servicemen came home some kind of normality eventually returned and people began, as people do, to improve their lot. Jobs were scarce though and men had to leave their homes for at least part of the year to find work. A few of the previous emigrants had returned, bringing a modest amount of money into the local economy. Added to this, and of most benefit, in the early 1930s Harris Tweed began to be woven by crofters at their own homes and although the first loom north of Barvas was in Melbost, the next came to Lower Shader. At that time, the money earned was 11d per yard for a 37 yard tweed (£1.13.11d or £1.70 in today's money), weaving with a 6 shuttle box loom but a penny less per yard on a single shuttle loom.
After WWII, ploughing and harrowing in Spring, carting peats in Summer and the harvest home in Autumn were all done by horses but in the the late 1940s, some relief for both man and beast arrived when a Lower-Shader-born man, residing in Melbost, introduced tractor ploughing and hauling. Over the following years, other tractors were bought and the strong work-horses were sold.
As quite a lot of entertainment was oral, inevitably there would have been a number of humorous characters to exercise their wit. One local wit found a wrecked ship's wheelhouse on the rocks and quickly told anyone who would care to listen that "a pulpit had come ashore, with even a minister in it"!